Category Archives: Manuscript Collections

Vincent Bavetta Collection, circa 1909-1940s

Vincenzo (Vincent) Bavetta, Jr. was born on Feb. 27, 1879 in Agrigento, Sicily. One of four children, he moved to America with his family in 1889 and later became a naturalized citizen in 1894. Between October 1900 and January 1901 Bavetta studied composition with noted composer Edward MacDowell at Columbia University in New York City. Around 1905, Vincent and his two brothers Vito and Anthony became involved in the Brooklyn Marine Band for which Vincent wrote the band’s arrangements and original music. Later, the Bavetta brothers formed their own professional band named, “V[ito]. Bavetta’s Concert Band”. The bands played regularly at Dreamland at Coney Island, Luna Park in Brooklyn, and the Hotel Riccadonna at Brighton Beach. In 1927, Vincent began working at St. John’s University, reviving the college’s long-dormant orchestra. By 1930, the orchestra grew from an extracurricular activity to a fully accredited course. He continued to teach at St. John’s until 1932. In the late 1950’s, Vincent and his wife moved from Brooklyn to Wantagh, Long Island where he died in 1965.

Vincent Bavetta’s unfinished five-part opera centers on the story of Pygmalion (King of Cyprus) who cannot find love because he has studied women and finds them vain and loquacious. His only joy in life is the statue that he created, wishing her warm and alive. The statue speaks, telling him not to blaspheme for fear of punishment by the gods. Pygmalion asks the statue to speak again, saying he doesn’t care about the gods’ punishment. Bavetta likely worked on this piece after his time at St. John’s, possibly in the late 1930s-1940s.  Also included are several photographs of the Brooklyn Marine Band at Coney Island in 1910, when Vincent Bavetta was the conductor.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Bavetta Marine Band, Brooklyn

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Records of St. John the Baptist Church, Brooklyn, 1873-1989

In 1865, the Right Reverend John Loughlin, the first bishop of Brooklyn, invited the Order of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul (the Vincentians) to found a Catholic institution of learning in Brooklyn. Led by the Reverend Edward M. Smith, C.M., a small community of Vincentians purchased a large plot of land for the college, on which was a small house for the brothers. The name originally chosen for the college in 1868 was Mary, Queen of the Isles, but by 1869 was
changed to St. John the Baptist, Bishop Loughlin’s patron. The college grounds would include a parish church, also run by the Congregation of the Mission. The cornerstone of a wooden-framed church was laid in 1869. This wooden church was soon rendered inadequately small by the growth of the parish, and in 1888 the cornerstone to a new church was laid. This new church, designed by the famed architect Patrick C. Keely, was based on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
It took six years to build the stone structure, which was finally dedicated in 1894. When St. John’s College (later, St. John’s University) moved to Queens in the late 1950’s, the direct affiliation was ended. However, it continues to serve as an active parish and as the main church of the Vincentian community that was founded in 1868.

This collection contains various programs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other documents relating to St. John the Baptist Church and the Vincentian community in Brooklyn. Of note are the detailed Sunday Announcement books dating from 1873 to 1936 which list upcoming masses, meetings and events of various parish groups including the college,
parochial school, and Sunday school classes; as well as marriage banns and prayer requests for ill and deceased members of the parish.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Digital Collection

St. John the Baptist Church 1894 program

William Vaudrey Papers, 1829-1872

This collection documents William Vaudrey’s voyages around the world. It includes his diaries and their transcriptions by an unknown hand. The diaries are written in very small, nearly illegible script, and sometimes in faint pencil. Some are illustrated with small architectural drawings, which are also reproduced in the transcriptions. The diaries seem to have been prepared for publication, however no trace of publication was found (as of 2018). The transcriptions may have been written soon after the original diaries, indicated by the neat, formal cursive which uses the “long s” or “descending s” which was still sometimes used in handwriting the late 19th century. Vaudrey’s diaries give a description of the countries he visited, and relay the difficulties of the journey in the middle of the nineteenth century, as well as provide some anthropological approaches to the populations encountered. The collection also includes travel documents such as passports, as well as correspondence with relatives and travel companions.

Little is known about William Vaudrey Esq., except by his own papers. He was an English subject born in Lancashire. It appears that he traveled for pleasure. According to his French passport, he was 25 years old in 1838.

Finding Aid (PDF)

William Vaudrey travel diary image

F.H. Madison United States Naval Academy Plebe Exam Notebook 1894-1895

This notebook contains copies of exams given F. H. Madison, a plebe (Class of 1898) at the United States Naval Academy, in mathematics, algebra, geometry, French, English and history from 1894 to 1895. Together with his grades in these subjects are the names of instructors and marks for efficiency and conduct. Mounted in the notebook are numerous pictures of ships of the American, French, English and Italian navies. Some of the vessels illustrated were built by the William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company.

Finding aid (PDF)

F.H. Madison Navy Plebe Book image

Samuel Bayless Journal, 1859-1864

This is the second volume of the diary of Samuel Bayless (1827-1917) from Kirkwood (Conklin), four miles East of Binghamton, New York. There are near daily entries from September 1, 1859 to May 31, 1864 spanning 432 numbered pages, with seven additional pages at the end of the volume with notes and drawings. There is a typed transcription (complete until the entry on August 3, 1861, page 186) by an unknown person, which contains numerous errors. The journal describes his family, the farm, the weather, politics, and local historical events.

According to his diary, on September 1, 1859, his parents were living; he was married to Matilda Langdon whose parents were both living, and he had one daughter, Ida, born December 12, 1858. On July 27, 1860, his wife Matilda died after giving birth to a baby girl. The baby, Matilda, died on August 24, 1860.

Finding aid (PDF)

Jollon Family Papers, 1898-1955

This collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other documents related to the Jollon family, of which several members attended St. John’s University. The majority of the papers relate to Alfred J. Jollon, who graduated from St. John’s College with a Bachelor of Arts in 1905 and a Master of Arts in 1908. He served on the St. John’s College Alumni Association and the Board of Trustees, and was awarded an Honorary Honorary Doctor of Laws from St. John’s College in 1929.

In addition, there are various documents that illustrate the university’s history, including correspondence regarding a patent filed and received by Dr. Rev. Edward J. Carey, C.M. of St. John’s College for a type of athletic hurdle equipment (filed October 21, 1922, issued April 14, 1925).

Finding aid (PDF)

Jollon Family Papers image

 

St. John’s University Scrapbook, 1870-1935

This scrapbook contains memorabilia and newspaper clippings related to St. John’s University and to the Catholic community in Brooklyn, including events held at the Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn Campus at St. John’s College Hall, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the St. John’s Seminary, the St. John’s Parochial
School, and events in celebration of John Loughlin, the first Bishop of Brooklyn (1817-1891). There are also programs for various events relating to the centenary celebration of the Miraculous Medal in 1930. A number of St. John’s University presidents, church officials, and other prominent persons related to
early St. John’s history are represented in the scrapbook.

It is inferred that Joseph W. Carroll, a student at St. John’s University from 1870-1874, was the original creator of the scrapbook because of a penmanship sample which matches the remains of correspondence long ago ripped out of the
scrapbook dating to 1870 when he was a student at St. John’s, as well as Carroll’s involvement in the various events for Bishop Loughlin included in this scrapbook.

Finding Aid (PDF)

St. John's University Scrapbook

 

Student Composition Book, 1871-1874

This composition book was handwritten by seventeen students of St. John’s College, Brooklyn, New York, (founded in 1870) between 1871 and approximately 1874. The ledger has a plain cover and lined paper with no page numbers. The title page reads, “Compositions of Class of 1871-72 Saint John’s College Cor. of Lewis + Willoughby avs Brooklyn L.I. N.Y.” in decorative handwriting. The binding is fragile and the ink on some of the pages is faded.

The entries within this volume vary in length; some are shorter and authored by only one or two students, while the longest story, “Edward Bradwell” was written by nine students contributing various chapters. Only a few entries are dated. One entry describes the funeral services of the Rev. David O’Mulane, Pastor of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on October 25, 1873.
The seventeen student authors are listed in the roster of pupils in the St. John’s College course catalogs. The list below shows the academic years in which each student is listed, as well as their home address at the time. Several of the authors of the essays in the book were founding members of the school’s first student society the “St. John’s Literary Union.” The society’s motto was Veritas Semper Vincit (truth always prevails).

Finding Aid (PDF)

Read a blog post about the Composition Book

Student Composition Book 1870's

Rev. John W. Moore, C.M. Family Papers

The Moore Family Papers include correspondence between John William Vincent Moore, seventh president of St. John’s University from 1906 to 1925, and various members of his family. Also included are several pieces of ephemera and a candlestick rumored to date from the Reformation, when it was used by priests who offered Mass surreptitiously, in secret chapels in the homes of Catholic Scots by the documentation provided. The letters from Fr. Moore detail his life as a seminary student in Germantown, Pennsylvania, his first time visiting St. John’s College in Brooklyn (a temporary assignment before he eventually became President), visiting New York City and touring several churches and other famous sites in New York for the first time, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and “the Great Bridge of Brooklyn.” He also writes about family life, including the death of his father, whose funeral he was not able to attend, and marriage advice for his sister. Letters from July and August 1914 provide information on Rev. John W. Moore in Europe (Germany, France, and Spain) at the breakout of World War One. A letter dated February 5, 1911 from “Bud,” Fr. Moore’s nephew, to his mother, Mary Weber, provides a description of his last months at the seminary in Germantown, and the reasons why he left to be with his uncle and study at St. John’s College.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Digital Collection

 

George J. Crane Papers, 1898-1949

George James Crane graduated from Boys High School, Brooklyn, in 1910, and then earned a B.A. (cum laude) at St. John’s College in 1914, an M.A. at Columbia University in 1917, and a Ph.D. at Fordham University in 1929. He also served in the armed forces during World War I. Crane was a teacher and principal at several New York City area elementary and high schools including Boys High and Boys Summer High in Brooklyn; East Side Evening High in Manhattan, and P.S. 71. He was the first principal of Bayside High School in Queens, from 1936 until 1951 when he retired. Additionally, from 1920, Crane taught courses in English and American Literature at St. John’s University and Manhattan College. George Crane passed away in 1966.

This collection contains the personal papers of George Crane, including memorabilia, correspondence, photographs, clippings, class and lecture notes, a master’s thesis, dissertation, and publications. There are two scrapbooks; one contains personal items such as school and drama club materials, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The other scrapbook was compiled by Crane’s students in 1933 prior to his trip to England.

George J. Crane portrait